March 25, 2015

Beyond Belief #5: The Spiritual Practice of Submission

Beyond Belief #5: The Spiritual Practice of Submission from City Square Church on Vimeo.

Recorded on March 15th @ 10:00 am – 11:15 am:

Pastor Brian Kemp-Schlemmer on “The Spiritual Practice of Submission”

Whether you’ve never had it, you’ve lost it, or you live with it every day, belief can be a fickle thing. Join us through the season of Lent (2/18-3/29) as we explore the practices that move us forward on our journey of faith when we’re not sure what we believe.

March 29th – Rob Rynders

March 10, 2015

Beyond Belief #3: A Lenten Series of Presence & Practice

Beyond Belief #3: A Lenten Series of Presence & Practice from City Square Church on Vimeo.

Recording on March 8th @ 10:00 am – 11:15 am: Brian Kemp-Schlemmer

Whether you’ve never had it, you’ve lost it, or you live with it every day, belief can be a fickle thing. Join us through the season of Lent (2/18-3/29) as we explore the practices that move us forward on our journey of faith when we’re not sure what we believe.

March 15th – Anthony Phillips, “Quiet and Contemplation”
March 22nd – Brian Kemp-Schlemmer
March 29th – Rob Rynders

We are also offering an optional small group opportunity as a companion to this Sunday morning series. Click here for more information about the “Spiritual Practices Workshop,” which will be meeting weekly beginning February 23.

Support the work of City Square Church

March 9, 2015

Supportive Community, Charitable Outreach Help Make City Square Home

Janet Seely (back) poses for a photo with Kara Khanke (front).

Janet Seely (back) poses for a photo with Kara Kahnke (front).

Guest Post by: Kara Kahnke

Janet Seely recalled growing up in a fundamentalist background that focused on specific rules and tenants of belief in God. She said that this background taught her that asking questions about God demonstrated a lack of faith. Her college experience began to change her perspective. College encouraged her to ask questions and explore different ways of understanding her faith. She said that City Square fit in well with this new way of understanding.

Janet came to City Square shortly after moving to Phoenix. “The first time I came, I knew this was the place for me,” she said. “At City Square, it’s more about what you do than what you believe. It’s about how you live out your faith.” Above all, Janet noted that City Square is about accepting everyone. She said this level of acceptance is much more important than a check list of beliefs.

Despite asking questions at times, Janet noted that her Christian faith has always been important to her. She said the strong community at City Square helps enrich her understanding of God. “I couldn’t stop being a Christian if I wanted to, and I don’t think you can do that alone.” She said this shared sense of support, accountability, and motivation toward spiritual practice, are all part of what inspires her to call City Square her church home.

Janet said one of the most positive aspects of City Square is the way the community challenges her to take everything a step further. When she mentioned to Rev. Rob Rynders that she enjoyed reading “Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road,” Rob encouraged her to start a study group about the book. Janet continues to participate in various City Square groups including the Creative Writing Group, Spiritual Formation Group, the Leadership Committee and the Mission Committee, which chooses City Square’s charitable partners.

Janet stated that City Square’s charitable outreach is another aspect that attracted her to the church. City Square tithes 10 percent of all donated funds back to community partners it believes are doing positive work. “It allows us to be good stewards,” she said. “By contributing to these organizations, City Square makes a much stronger impact than what we could ever do as a church alone.”
To people who are thinking about attending City Square for the first time, Janet encouraged them to give it a try, noting that City Square is better when experienced than when explained. “You can start as big or small as you want,” she said. “You’ll find a place to fit in here.”

December 8, 2014

City Square Church is Moving (In January 2015)

Ucc Space

After a year of Sunday morning worship at The Bioscience High School, in downtown Phoenix, City Square is moving to a new space in the historic Coronado Neighborhood on January 4, 2015. We will remain at Bioscience for the remainder of 2014, including for our Christmas Eve service.  Beginning in January we will be worshipping regularly at the headquarters of The Southwest Conference of The United Church of Christ located at 917 E Sheridan, Phoenix, 85006, 1.7 miles northeast of Bioscience High School. The UCC made us a generous offer to use the space at a very low cost and our leadership team decided this was the right move for us. The new location will allow us to be in a new neighborhood and will make for an easier setup/breakdown process each week. There is a small parking area and ample street parking. Each Sunday there will also be ample signage so folks will easily know where to go. We’re thankful for the time we had a Bioscience, especially the extremely friendly maintenance staff who worked to make it a great space to be in every Sunday. We’re excited about this new opportunity and hope you will join us in helping us tell other about the move. We’ll see you in January, Coronado!

December 1, 2014

Advent Art Project: Hope

This Advent, City Square Church will be featuring a piece of locally made art, each week in worship, representing that particular week’s Advent theme.

This first piece is “Hope” and was created by Ramon Aguirre.

Csq Advent Final from PJ Szabo on Vimeo.

December 1, 2014

Chureca (or, Why I Believe in God)

This is a guest post from City Square member Nathan Rosswog

Chureca 3

If I believe in God, it’s because of a garbage dump that smells like shit.

In the summer of 2008, my friend Clay and I backpacked through Central America for three months. We had no structured itinerary for our trip, but our goal was simple: Our desire was to meet people we had never met, to hear their stories and look into their eyes, and find connection between all of humanity. Truthfully, we wanted to find God in a way and place we had never found him before.
Though our trip was well-intentioned, it was poorly planned. In fact, the night before our departure from Florida to Guatemala City, our contact in Guatemala called to say he couldn’t meet us at the airport, but would send his friend Carlos to pick us up instead. Which was great, because we had no idea what Carlos looked like.

That vignette served as a microcosm for our entire trip: any flimsy planning we attempted to do was quickly blown away by the winds of travel, unexpected circumstances and Latin American instability. Still, despite the setbacks-Clay losing his passport, staying in an extremely dilapidated and sketchy hotel in San Salvador, wandering around aimlessly in Guatemala City for hours after taking a “short walk” and getting lost- I have never experienced God more clearly than on that pilgrimage.

I saw God everywhere.

I saw God in the natural beauty of Guatemala and Nicaragua; in the chiseled mountains and rolling fields and rushing, crystal waters.

I saw God on the top of the mountain in Guatemala where we were living and
working: He was in the strength of quiet and serious women who carried baskets of fruit on their heads every day; He was in the dedication of the calloused machete men who went into the fields to work the land, and of course he was in the laughter of the children as they played soccer.

I saw God in the funeral processions for loved ones, complete with pinatas, banners, and flowers; and I saw God in the general commitment to relationships and people that is lacking here in the United States.

I saw God in conversations, in lifestyles, in the street and on the mountaintop, in
the alleyways and hotels and buses and smiles and tears.

I saw God everywhere.

But mostly, I saw God in La Chureca, a Nicaraguan garbage dump community that was home to over 800 people. It was hell on Earth.

On the first day that Clay and I ventured into the dump, I noticed a blackened, soot-filled Teddy Bear that was suspended by its neck with wire hanging over the entrance. Below the bear fires burned, and the smoke that rose from these burning pyres had darkened the Teddy Bear’s coat to a deep soot-grey. I couldn’t help but ruminate on the imagery: though an ominous welcome, the blackened bear was an appropriate portrayal of the brokenness and death that lay inside. Once inside, my suspicions were confirmed: one quick glance revealed three-legged dogs that scoured for food, heaps of trash that burned incessantly, creating a canvas of ash and soot that blanketed the community, and children who, despite their surroundings, used the mountains of trash to play King of the Hill and Hide and Seek (children are the best of every culture, aren’t they?) People’s eyes were downcast and lifeless, shoulders were heavy from the weight of the discarded garbage and discarded lives. Literally, the place I was standing had “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” I was in hell.

The questions began immediately, and furiously: Where was God in this place? If these people are in Hell now, what kind of God would send them to an eternal one? What does salvation mean to these people? What relevance does church have in this place, when survival is the goal and trust is unknown?

Though most of my questions weren’t answered and many of them rage to this day, I began to see clearly -probably for the first time- that all of my preconceived notions about Sin, Hell, Salvation, Heaven and God were rapidly dismantled. It was unsettling to realize that Sin was tangibly real, and not simply a vague theological concept: It was clear to me that the greed and selfishness that created this dump, and the structures in place that perpetuated it, were nothing short of an abomination before God. Hell was real: I was in it. Salvation was real: In a palpable and desperate way, this place needed saved.

Oh, but the joy I felt when I realized that if Hell was real, Heaven was too! As I spent time with the people and heard stories of hope, of families sticking together, of neighbor helping neighbor, I knew all was not lost. As I spoke with the children about their dreams for the future, I knew that Death had not completely won, and that Life was still breathing there, though softly. I knew, or rather I choose to believe, that God hears the prayers of the nine year old girl there who prays every night to be a doctor, and that one day he will take the bones of poverty and sin that reside in that dump and breathe life into them until they are dancing upon the injustice that they now know. I choose to believe.

I believe in God, and it’s because of a garbage dump that smells like shit.

October 17, 2014

Statement on Marriage Equality in Arizona

As proud members of the Arizona family, we at City Square Church celebrate the thousands of families whose love and commitment have gained legal recognition in the place they call home. As proud members of the United Methodist family, we grieve our denomination’s continued failure to recognize all who are called into covenant relationship by God. As proud members of the City Square movement we remain committed to our call, acknowledge the sacred worth of all people regardless of gender or sexual orientation, race or ethnicity, political ideology or mental/physical ability. We believe that by strengthening the bonds of love and grace within our communities we live more fully into Christ’s call to create God’s kingdom on earth. That is why our pastors, Rev. Rob Rynders and Rev. Brian Kemp-Schlemmer are prepared to serve any couple seeking to enter into the covenant of marriage. May we celebrate together as we seek to connect people to God and each other for the transformation of our lives, our communities, and our world.

May 19, 2014

Adventures in Missing the Point :: Faith & Science Part 1 :: The Beginning

Sermon from Rob Rynders based on Acts 17:24-28

Additional resources:

Mike McHargue (Especially his reading list, which helped with much of the research for this sermon)
Lawrence Krauss – A Universe From Nothing
Neil de Grasse Tyson
Carl Sagan
Cosmos Television Series (2014)
Brian Greene – Interview on “On Being With Krista Tippet”
David Montgomery – The Rocks Don’t Lie
Francis Collins – “Why This Scientist Believes in God”
The BioLogos Foundation